A recent study from Michigan State University claims to find a link between bipolar depression and hypertension (high blood pressure). Results of the study presented at the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting showed that the presence of hypertension may impact the severity of the bipolar patient’s disorder and that a diagnosis of hypertension becomes more prevalent the younger a patient is diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder (also known as manic-depressive disorder) is a mood disorder characterized by the experience of manic episodes (which can entail feelings of high energy, racing thoughts, irritability or even optimism raised to at times delusional states) and episodes of deep depression. It is believed that between 1-2% of the population suffer from this condition.

Physicians, Psychologists, and people in general have always held differences of opinion when it comes to how to think about mental conditions. Some people may think depression is simply a “bad mood” that should be “snapped out of” while medical evidence has shown that physiological components of  these diseases make them just as “real” as a broken bone.  The link between hypertension and bipolar disorder is just one of the latest correlations between mental disorders and other conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

While in many cases it is not totally clear what causes what (i.e. does the stress of bipolar predispose the development of hypertension, or the other way round) the study by Dale D’Mello does suggest the need for doctors to consider the importance of tending to physical health as a complement to treating mental conditions. Without getting into the mind/brain/body debate, it only makes sense that any contribution to “physical” health will ultimately improve patient outcome, if even only indirectly.